Sunday, 24 January 2010

Paradise Lost??

The bus strike was indeed over, so a 50p Tuk Tuk ride got me to the Terminal Terrestrial and soon on my way to Lima. Not the most beautiful city in the world, and may probably qualify as the worst, but luck again was on my side. The manager at the bus depot spoke fluent English, and recommended I take the 1st Class service to Paracas. The plan had been to center myself on Pisco, but Paracas is where any wildlife action is so was glad to be advised. The seats may have been comfortable, but that was about all. First there was a safety brief, in both Spanish and English, that lasted a full half hour. This was followed by another 30 minutes of trailers for up-coming films, and finally a movie featuring homosexual American firemen, all at the loudest volume available. I asked the steward to turn it down, which he said would make it inaudible to those upstairs, but did a bit, and despite my ear-plugs it was a nightmare throughout. It's back to the 'chicken buses' for this kid!

Regardless, I got to Paracas at 18-00 (the 4 hours programmed) and within 15 minutes had check-in to a hostel, arranged a desert tour for today, and the boat trip to the Balastas Islands tomorrow. In addition I very nearly updated yesterdays post, but the god's just weren't with me on that one. Unable to get 'on-line' with the lap top, I resorted to using the hostels link and equipment, but that meant getting a means to transfer the photographs from my LT to their computer. With no memory stick, a disc was all that was available, but after the effort of up-loading their drive wouldn't read my disc.

On to today. At 06-00 I was once again on the fore-shore, where much had changed since my last visit. There was always a Km of sand to which the holiday makers stuck, and then for the rest of the bay it was a craggy rock coast-line. Now I find a huge hotel has been built at the end of the sand, with officially no access to the likes of me, then there are 'holiday homes' for about a mile. Unfortunately, these have been built almost to the 'high water mark' and much of the rubble has been piled on top of the existing natural rocks. This seems to have reduced the number of birds to 'a tenth' of what we experienced here before, so who knows where the Aves have gone. I guess another part of Paradise lost?

After a decent breakfast, all in with the £10's per night, I went on a 'Grockle' Tour to the Paracas National Nature Reserve, which is almost completely desert. Having said that, much of it is very interesting and given we had a good guide the day and the money were well spent. The peninsular that makes up the reserve is surrounded by sea on 3 sides, and once you reach the ocean, you also reach the birds. There were many 'thousands' at various points including Elegant, Royal and Sandwich Terns, 4 species of Gull, lots of Peruvian Pelicans and Booby plus a large colony of Inca Terns. The only addition to the Trip List only was Guanay Cormorant, which was photographed from a distance, but also caught up with photographing a 'whole' Black Oystercatcher. By far the best sight, was watching a car full of hooligans taking a 'short cut' across what looked like pristine desert, but fortunately for the onlookers it was quicksand. 'Quick' was the by-word as in what seemed like seconds the car was immersed to half way up the door panels, so all in all a very good day.

Re-acquainted with the ubiquitous Rufous-collared Sparrow, which, despite its ubiqitousness has been absent for several days.

I just couldn't help adding this fine

adult Grey Gull

Prawn to Spotted Sand - Check Mate (for one of them) I think?

It'll be many a day before an Oystercatcher chisels a limpet off one of these building bricks!

Peruvian Pelicans on the Pier

Royal Tern

Just a small proportion of the birds that used to be here!

Yes, it was those 'fishermen' that flushed the flock.

Paracas seen from the hill.

The Independence Tower, supposedly depicting the colours of the national flag. I'm sure the flag's maroon each side and white down the center?

The so called Cathedral Rock, which was the epicenter of the recent earthquake at 8.3 on the Richter Scale.

The coast looking north

Peruvian Booby Colony

Inca Tern Colony

Black Oystercatcher

Peruvian Pelican

Peruvian Booby (detail head shot)

Hey Honeychild, get you beak outa ma Pot Mess!